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Cablegate: Settlers "University Center" Plans to Double In

VZCZCXRO2537
PP RUEHROV
DE RUEHJM #2279 3571535
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 221535Z DEC 08
FM AMCONSUL JERUSALEM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3569
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NSC PRIORITY

UNCLAS JERUSALEM 002279

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

NEA FOR FRONT OFFICE. NSC FOR ABRAMS/RAMCHAND/PASCUAL

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KWBG PHUM ASEC IS PBTS
SUBJECT: SETTLERS "UNIVERSITY CENTER" PLANS TO DOUBLE IN
SIZE

REF: JERUSALEM 248

1. (SBU) Summary. The Ariel "University Center," an
unaccredited Israeli university in the West Bank, plans to
increase from 8,400 to 20,000 students by 2020, and build
several more permanent buildings to accommodate and educate
them, including a new 12,000 square meter library already
under construction. Ariel's president claimed that a new
industrial park is planned next to the college campus.
According to an Ariel professor, the West Bank settler
population has doubled in the past 12 years and could reach
540,000 by 2020. End summary.

PLANS FOR EXPANSION
-------------------

2. (SBU) President of Ariel "University Center" Dan
Meyerstein showed Poloff the campus "master plan" during a
December 18 meeting. There are plans for a spacious new
library, which is already under construction, a fitness
center, several new academic buildings, and dormitory
buildings to replace the caravans that currently house 1,600
students. The existing 2,400 square meter library will be
joined by a new 12,000 square meter library, already under
construction, and funded by U.S. private donors, according to
Meyerstein. PolOff saw several buildings that were expanded
recently, and two more buildings under construction.

3. (SBU) Meyerstein said that, of the college's 8,400
students, 500 live elsewhere in Ariel settlement, more than
1,000 are in nearby settlements, and 5,000 are from cities in
Israel. Meyerstein said the college aims to increase the
student body from 8,400 to 20,000 students by 2020. He noted
that the college employs 1,000 people, including over 200
professors.

4. (SBU) Meyerstein said the campus was zoned in 1982 as an
industrial park, but "demand for a center of higher
education" in the West Bank led to the creation of the
college. He said he hopes that an industrial park planned
for the northeast of the campus will attract investors and
provide students practical training opportunities.

CURRICULUM AND COOPERATION
--------------------------

5. (SBU) Meyerstein acknowledged that Ariel has not been
accredited by the Israeli Ministry of Education, but received
"university center" status about one year ago. He said he
expects full accreditation of the college's degree programs
"soon," which will allow him to add doctoral programs.
Meyerstein blamed U.S. settlement policy for the college's
lack of scientific research collaboration with U.S.
universities, noting that its only partnerships are with
Russian universities. According to Meyerstein, the college
is advancing disciplines such as electro-optics,
biotechnology engineering, and robotics, including "smart"
robots that can explore oil pipelines for leaks and unmanned
ground vehicles capable of engaging in field reconnaissance.

WEST BANK SETTLER POPULATION COULD DOUBLE BY 2020
--------------------------------------------- ----

6. (SBU) Head of Social Sciences Dr. Dan Soen told Poloff
that he recently published some of the results from his
analysis of Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics information.
Soen said the settler population of the West Bank doubled in
the past 12 years and is now 270,000. He noted that, while
some settlers leave the West Bank, "more people are coming
than going," and the settlers' birthrate is higher than that
of Israelis (35 births per 1,000 settlers in the West Bank,
verus 20 births per 1,000 Israelis in Israel). He said that,
at the current rate, by 2020, the settler population could
double again to 540,000 settlers.

MARCHESE

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